Changes that come with aging are scary, but the fear is often intensified when you, as a primary caregiver, must deal with your parents being on the verge of angry outbursts when you unseemingly justify their unreasonable behavior.
Keep reading to discover our tips and advice on how to deal with irrational parents.
Irrational Parents: 12 Tips to Handle Their Irrationality With Tenderness and Deep Understanding
Why Do Seniors Become Irrational?
Irrational behavior describes a range of actions or emotional expressions that a person may be committed to in such a way that their logical thinking is turned off. In other words, they barely reevaluate their choices but proceed to do the first thing that pops into their heads instead. Most of the time, irrational behavior ends up in crisis or fails to accomplish the intended outcome.
A study in the Journals of Gerontology found that 77 percent of adult children have concerns about how their parents exhibit challenging behavior and stop considering their advice.
Aging and everything that comes with it could be the primary reason behind their irrational attitudes, as they do not know their future. In addition, ongoing, unresolved conflicts may put your parents in a position where they resist any help and even become secretive about any changes in their health that might require immediate medical attention.
While there are countless reasons to break down their uncharacteristic behavior, some of the most prevalent explanations for their stubbornness are as follows:
- Declining basic sense of self-awareness due to losing contact with the outside world
- Onset dementia
- Mental illnesses caused by declined neuro health
- Displeasure with the idea of financially depending on their children
- Fear of the changing world.
Irrational Elderly Parents: Tips to Deal With Them the Right Way
Let’s go over some tips for touching base with your parents and handling their behaviors with gentleness and understanding:
Identify the Underlying Causes
Fading memory and progressive changes in brain health are the preconditions for anxiety, stress, and irrational attitudes in seniors. Since all forms of dementia are currently incurable, getting an early assessment and diagnosis is considered the best way to help you and them find solutions. This practical step can help you seek relevant medical resources and plan for advanced care as soon as possible to meet their needs and prevent their conditions from worsening.
In order to better understand your senior family members and what they’re going through as they age, we recommend this excellent resource – https://www.amazon.com/How-Say-Seniors-Closing-Communication/dp/0735203806/. In the book, you’ll learn about the unique perspective of seniors and the primary drivers of their behavior and get some great tools to better relate and communicate with them.
Treat Your Parents as Equals
Seniors being irrational can behave like children, but they are far from it.
As a primary caregiver, remember that it is essential not to talk down to or treat your parents like children. Trying to overpower your parents only hurts their feelings and even sabotages your relationship in the long run. Instead, continue to treat them like adults and show respect in all conversations.
You Need to Stay Calm
In any given circumstance, remaining calm is the key. When your parents act out of their usual character, discussing and calmly speaking to them is the best way to stand your ground, even if they are wrong and you are right.
Timing Is Everything
Constructive conversations bridge the distance between you and your parents, allowing both sides to listen to each other and get on the same page. However, such communication will only happen if both sides are willing to discuss things. Be sure to sit your parents down when they are not feeling exhausted, anxious, or depressed; the same should apply to you, too.
Learn to Accept the Situation
Seeing your parents not being the people you used to know is heartbreaking. Change is scary, but avoid beating yourself up.
Instead, how you learn to accept the situation and seek practical solutions is more important than refusing to acknowledge what your parents are going through since the aging process is not an easy journey.
Spend More Time With Them
When were the last times you had a walk with your parents or joined their dinner? In some cases, irrational attitudes may result from the lack of attention or affection, especially when your busy life gets in between you and your parents. Although you might not have much time, trying your best to spend time with your parents will make them feel appreciated and validated. Sometimes, the best care you can give is your presence.
“Can I Ask You a Question?”
Questions are an excellent approach to help your parents understand the situation and have a reflection on their irrational behaviors.
Instead of jumping right to a conclusion, start asking your parents suggestive, open-ended questions. For example, “How can I help?” is a better approach than “Let me do it”.
In addition to questions, you can repeat some positive affirmations to encourage your parents along their aging journey, such as “I am here to help you,” “I love you,” or “What you are going through is difficult and it’s OK to feel the way you do”.
Put Reassurance and Validation First
Reassuring and validating your parents’ feelings, though unreasonable, can go a long way in maintaining and even strengthening the relationship. No matter how awful or bizarre their words and actions can get, understanding their motives and letting them know you are always there for them is the ultimate way to relieve their fears and concerns.
Don’t Let the Battles Pick You
Regardless of your good intentions, nagging and arguing is never worth it because it can cost the entire relationship when arguments reach their breaking point. When recommending your parents to do something beneficial for their lives, try your best to explain and give them time for consideration while also letting them know that their opinions matter. Let the small stuff slide is what you should keep in mind at this point.
Respect Their Boundaries
In the heat of the moment, crossing boundaries can happen quickly and end up in irrevocable misunderstandings. To avoid this, establish healthy boundaries when dealing with seniors. It creates balance and helps you decide when, where, and how to get involved without making them feel like you are violating their privacy and personal lives.
Don’t Be Shy to Seek Outside Support
Taking on the caregiver role can be stressful due to associated responsibilities, fears, and unrealistic expectations. Caregivers also need an equivalent level of care to deliver high-quality caregiving to the seniors they are responsible for. With that in mind, don’t be shy to seek outside support from friends, family members, counselors, or caregiver groups.
Touch Base With Their Doctors
Staying connected with your senior’s doctors is an important step in helping provide care for them. Sometimes, their current medications can give rise to irrational attitudes, so be sure to speak with their doctors to adjust the dosage and seek professional help when needed.
If you have questions about dealing with irrational elderly parents or any topics discussed here, connect with us and learn more.
At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks senior living communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.
For questions or to schedule a personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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